The Legal 500

Macedonia

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Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Legal market overview
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Dragan Dameski - Debarliev, Dameski & Kelesoska Attorneys at Law
    • Dejan Knezovic - Knezovic & Associates, Law Firm
    • Kristijan Polenak - Polenak Law Firm
    • Tatjana Popovski-Buloski - Polenak Law Firm

Economic growth decelerated in Macedonia during 2015, impacted by a combination of domestic political woes, the global economy and particularly the crisis in Greece, which is a major trading partner. A number of substantial deals still occurred – notably in infrastructure, energy and debt finance – the majority of law firms remained focused on dispute resolution and debt collection.

As one of the poorest nations in Europe, the Macedonian commercial legal market is small, with just a dozen or so law firms competing to service foreign investment into the country but the firms which do that work exhibit a high level of expertise and standard of service. Few foreign law firms are present, just Serbia-originated Karanovic & Nikolic in cooperation with local lawyers and ODI Law of Slovenia. New regulation from the Macedonian Bar Association tightened marketing rules in 2015.

Debarliev, Dameski & Kelesoska Attorneys at Law secured a number of enviable transactions, particularly in the banking and finance sector, where it acted as local counsel alongside international law firms. Domestic mandates included advising Accor Pannonia Hotels on its franchising of the IBIS Hotel brand, and representing Technical Textile in its €10m greenfield investment in one of Macedonia’s several technological industrial and development zones. Name partners Ivan Debarliev, Dragan Dameski and Emilija Kelesoska Sholjakovska are all recommended.

Polenak Law Firm is widely considered to be a market leader: it is a regular on headline transactions and is the preferred adviser among numerous international law firms and foreign investors seeking Macedonian counsel. The firm’s 14 qualified lawyers are led by Tatjana Popovski-Buloski and managing partner Kristijan Polenak, who ‘understand the needs of international investors’. Recent work includes advising a US gold trading company on a $175m gold purchase and the subsequent sale to a Canadian buyer to finance a copper and gold project in Macedonia. The firm also acted for an international financial institution during its equity sale of a Macedonian bank.

Cakmakova Advocates is an established commercial firm with a track record of market-leading instructions. Clients include international banks and telecoms service providers, foreign and domestic energy companies and a wide range of multinational manufacturers. The well-resourced team is led by high-profile individual Biljana Cakmakova, supported by Olivera Grozdanovska and Vesna Gavriloska.

Bucking the trend in a challenging market, Georgi Dimitrov Attorneys is acting for foreign investors on two significant acquisitions. It is also advising on the construction of transport infrastructure and was recently victorious in a long-running international arbitration. A key strength of the firm is projects work, particularly within the mining and energy sectors. Name partner Georgi Dimitrov, Katarina Ginoska and Nadica Dimovska are the key figures.

Dejan Knezovic at Law Firm Knezovic & Associates is widely respected in the market, earning key instructions and clients as a result. The firm is acting for several banks regarding the financing of airport operator TAV Macedonia’s renovation and upgrade of Skopje Airport. It also represents the local entities of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling and Heineken and their joint venture, Pivara Skopje. Other clients include Société Générale and its local subsidiary, Ohridska Bank.

Advokatska kancelarija Pepeljugoski fields a large team and has a satellite office in Pristina, Kosovo. The firm is led by name partner Valentin Pepeljugoski and Aleksandar Trajkovski, who are managing and senior partner respectively. Although the firm provides full-service support, it has standout expertise in intellectual property, as well as notable experience in TMT and energy work. It attracts high-calibre clients such as Microsoft, which the firm advises on IP protection; Makedonski Telekom, which it assisted with corporate matters; and shopping mall Ramstore Macedonia, for which it acted on property law and other issues.

Lawyers Antevski’ Western European offices in Munich, Vienna and Liechtenstein help to attract a client list of international companies requiring Macedonian representation, particularly for litigation and debt recovery. It acted for Germany’s Betty Barclay in a €51m litigation case against Macedonia’s clothing manufacturer SAITIS. Domestic clients include manufacturer Renova, which it is advising on multiple high-value debt collection matters. Zlatko Antevski heads the six-lawyer team.

Clients of leading SEE regional firm Karanovic & Nikolic in cooperation with local lawyers appreciate the ‘professional advice’, ‘good value for money’ and the fact that ‘the best legal experts are always available when needed’. The practice locally has bulked up its resources at associate level and the team is led by experienced senior associate Leonid Ristev, overseen by Serbia-based senior partner and regional specialist Miloš Vučović. Of note are the firm’s regional specialist practice groups, which bring expertise to Macedonia and can service cross-border transactions of the highest level. The firm is working alongside the London office of DLA Piper to advise the IFO and Macedonian government on a €400m road PPP, and is assisting a Fortune 500 automotive company with its entry into the Macedonian market.

Monevski Law Firm is instructed by international law firms requiring local advice, as well as global companies and international organisations. They include T-Mobile Macedonia, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Finance Corporation, JT International, and various well-known investment banks and accountancy firms. Founding partner Valerjan Monevski heads the firm.

Demonstrating both ‘strength and capability’, ODI Law is another regional firm with offices in Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia. The firm has risen in profile in Macedonia under the leadership of ‘fully fledged professional’ Gjorgji Georgievski, who has brought international clients, connections and experience from his prior career. He recently led Macedonian advice to Russia’s largest telecoms operator, Mobile Telesystems OJSC (MTS), during its attempted acquisition of shares in Telekom Slovenia, including Macedonian subsidiaries. Other clients include airport operator TAV Macedonia and major Turkish retailer Defacto Perakende Ticaret. Ana Stojanovska is praised by clients for her knowledge and ability to quickly grasp complicated issues.

Clients at Popovski Law Office have ‘nothing but praise’ for the firm, particularly for its ‘international approach’ and ‘skilled, business-oriented, English-speaking lawyers’. These include Aleksandar Icokaev, who leads on corporate and IP matters, and Biljana Slavkovska, head of litigation. Clients include the Macedonian subsidiary of Wabtec Corp, Denmark’s Novo Nordisk and Central Co-operative Bank, Skopje.

Trpenoski Law Firm is another well-resourced firm, led by high-profile individual and arbitrator Natasha Trpenoski Trenchevska. The firm enjoys a good reputation across all key areas of corporate and commercial law, attracting heavyweight clients such as international and local banks and financial institutions, telecoms operators and a variety of manufacturers. Dejvi Davidovski heads the corporate practice at the firm.

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